This was my first experience getting a tour through a tire retread plant. Kal Tire supplies our recaps for our bus fleet and they asked us to come down and see where it all happens. It’s a long process from start to finish and I can see why they do not want to find a bad casing along the way because of all the labor involved to check each and every tire that goes through the plant.
It starts out with a visual check and registration to see how many times the casing has been recapped. Any obvious flaws are checked before the next step which is checking for separation in the casing. The casing is everything except the tread so 90% of the inspection involves the casing.
With our fleet we want to send out worn down tires and get the casing back with the new tread applied without a hitch. If not a cap and a new casing elevates the cost substantially. Some casings have been retreaded up to 5 times which is remarkable considering the wear and tear a tire goes through.
Another thing to consider is how much tread is left on the tire when it gets sent out. You don’t want to send out a tire with a completely worn down tread which reduces the odds of a successful recap job. We send our tires out with 10 to 12 thirty seconds of an inch of tread left.
Checking tire pressures is more important than most people think…. it can lengthen the life of any tire on the road a great deal by keeping the correct inflation and stopping extra loads on the casing in vulnerable areas. We check tire pressures every 5000 km service. Every one of our bus tires have a label on the sidewall that indicates how many retreads it’s had indicating the month and year.
Tire cupping has been and issue with our buses and it’s mostly due to the wrong application. In other words the tires might have been more suited to off road trucks requiring a deep lug pattern. We also check the alignment if necessary to rule that out but there have been some instances where the 4 wheel alignment has been out of spec especially on the Thomas pusher buses due to a faulty rear suspension part.
After this tour I have more respect for the tire dealer who goes to great lengths to do the job right at their retread plant using millions of dollars of equipment. Missing a faulty tire in the process spells trouble down the road and creates bad blood with the customer. The price of recaps have been steadily climbing which I notice of course being in charge of purchasing our fleet requirements but after this experience we definitely get what we pay for.